Before and after his death in 2009, there have been plenty of stories written about Michael Jackson's love for comic books. It has been reported that he enjoyed taking his three children to comic book stores to splurge on whatever titles they fancied, had a statue made of himself dressed as Batman, hired The Incredible Hulk star Lou Ferrigno to be his personal trainer, and, years before Sam Raimi's 2002 film, tried to purchase Marvel so that he could produce (and possibly star in) a live-action Spider-Man movie.
The latest story of the King of Pop's connection to the world of comics comes from David Hayter, who wrote the X-Men (2000) screenplay and co-wrote X2 (2003) and Watchmen (2009). He revealed in a recent interview that Jackson, along with many other A-list celebrities at that time, had a burning desire to be a part of the X-Men film universe. According Hayter, Jackson eyed the lead role of Professor Charles Xavier — the powerful mutant with telepathic abilities that founded the X-Men and the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters — which eventually went to Star: The Next Generation star, Patrick Stewart.
"I was brought on as they were casting, so I was lucky enough to be there for some of the people who came in like Terence Stamp for Xavier and Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey for Storm. Michael Jackson came in because he wanted to play Professor X," Hayter told THR. "It was amazing. Shaq came in. Viggo Mortensen came in. I really liked Viggo for Wolverine, but it didn't come together for whatever reason. Angela Bassett was our first choice for Storm, but her agents wanted more money than we had at the time. Same with Rachael Leigh Cook for Rogue."
And who did Shaq want to play? "He's got the big M scar over his face [Bishop, later played by Omar Sy in 2014's Days of Future Past]," he shared. "Because I didn't know the character, it didn't end up in the script. But I did walk past an office one day and there he was and much larger than life. Glenn Danzig came in for Wolverine, because he's a Wolverine fanatic. And because I was answering phones right at the front, people would come right through where my office was."
X-Men (2000) - Born into a world filled with prejudice are children who possess extraordinary and dangerous powers - the result of unique genetic mutations. Cyclops (Marsden) unleashes bolts of energy from his eyes. Storm (Berry), can manipulate the weather at will. Rogue (Paquin) absorbs the life force of anyone she touches. But under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier (Stewart), these and other outcasts learn to harness their powers for the good of mankind. Now they must protect those who fear them as the nefarious Magneto (Ian McKellen), who believes humans and mutants can never co-exist, unveils his sinister plan for the future!
The film was directed by Bryan Singer and written by David Hayter. With a $75 million production budget, 20th Century Fox's X-Men went on to gross $296.3 million at the worldwide box office.
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